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English confirms drug tests for job seekers

Published: 2:02PM Sunday July 01, 2012 Source: ONE News

Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed the unemployed will face drug tests to get the benefit.

English has told TVNZ's Q + A programme that National made a commitment to the policy during last year's election campaign.

"We made a commitment to having a policy where people who are meant to be available for work should be in the position where they can pass a drug test, for instance, so they can get a job in the forestry industry."

English said in his Clutha-Southland electorate young people cannot be employed because they can't pass a drug test.

"In my electorate, a lot of the jobs available to younger people are in forestry and in the meat-processing industry. And I'm told by those employers they often can't employ our own locally unemployed young people because they can't pass a drug test."

He said the drug tests would apply only to beneficiaries who receive the new Jobseeker benefit.

Meanwhile, English said he expects the rebuild in Christchurch to "ramp up" over the next six months to make it quite an attractive place for people who are looking for work.

"In fact, we've put in place specific training places, and hundreds and hundreds of them so people can make that transition," he said.

Asked it he would penalise beneficiaries if the did not move to Christchurch for work, English said, "I wouldn't go that far, but the incentive is going to be there, because there's going to be jobs there."

He said WINZ may help people who have lost jobs in other parts of the country to move to Christchurch.

"We would certainly be putting that choice to them, and WINZ have the opportunity to help people in some respects.

"These days, they do spend money on helping people with transport costs, with getting their overalls and boots and stuff, so, yes, that is possible."

The Government is looking at the creation of 20,000 to 30,000 new private sector jobs per year nationally, English said.